Can You Be Fired for a Bad Personality?

Young Asian professional woman crossing her arms during workplace dispute

Yes. California is an at-will employment state, so you can be fired for practically any reason that is not discriminatory or retaliatory. Your boss can fire you because you are not a good fit, for a bad attitude, after conflict with another employee, or simply because they don’t like you.

Nevertheless, your employer must fire you fairly. Sometimes, “not a good fit,” is code for “the only woman or person of color in the office,” and firings based on “personality conflict” often cover up wrongful terminations based on discrimination or retaliation.

What Is a Good Fit?

Usually, employers have options when it comes to hiring new employees. If your employer chose you, they likely did so after conducting an interview and deciding that you would be a good cultural fit for their business.

While terms like “good fit” and “bad fit” may be vague, they refer to the way the workplace operates. Every workplace has a culture or environment that employees must work within. If an employee fails to thrive within an existing framework, it can interfere with productivity and even jeopardize the business.

If you are a good fit at your company, it means you work similarly to others at the company. When you work differently from everyone else, you may cause conflicts – even if they aren’t always obvious.

For example, someone who checks their email every few hours may not be a “good fit” at a company where employees are expected to respond to emails immediately. Your delayed response to emails could interfere with the way other employees do their jobs. If the problem became severe enough, your employer could choose to eliminate the problem by terminating your employment.

Reasons for a Wrongful Termination Claim

Although your employer can fire you for being a slow emailer or having a bad attitude, they cannot fire you based on your age, gender, race, religion, natural origin, or disability status – nor can they fire you for making a workers’ compensation claim, requesting family or medical leave, getting pregnant, or making complaints about sexual harassment, unpaid wages, and other unlawful treatment in the workplace.

Refusing to go to happy hour with your coworkers because you are recovering from alcoholism, for example, is not grounds for termination – even if it causes some awkwardness at work. Fitting into a workplace does not mean practicing a certain religion, being of a certain race, or being a certain gender.

If you feel excluded from your workplace based on a protected characteristic(s), and the exclusion is affecting your work, talk to your employer. Your employer cannot fire you for reporting your concerns, and if they do, you have solid footing for a wrongful termination claim.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

Before firing an employee for a bad fit or personality conflict, employers should have a 1-on-1 conversation with the employee. If you get fired for your personality with no warning, think about your situation again. Are you the only person of a particular race, gender, or religion at the workplace? Were you fired after announcing your pregnancy? Has someone been making comments about your disability at work?

You should also pay attention if you were fired immediately after a glowing performance review, as there may be another reason for your termination. Some offenses are so serious, they justify termination on the spot, but most employers will allow you to explain your situation or make improvements before firing you – even if you made a mistake or a coworker complained about your behavior.

If you get fired out of the blue, and the reasons for your termination do not make any sense to you, you should consider discussing your employment situation with an attorney.

With over 25 years of experience exclusively focused on employment law, our team at Polaris Law Group may be able to spot red flags and signs of discrimination or retaliation that you may have missed.

You have rights, and Attorney Bill Marder is dedicated to protecting them. We take cases that other lawyers won’t and file lawsuits within days of your free consultation.

Take a second look at your situation – call us at (888) 796-4010 or contact us online to get started today.